Monday, May 30, 2005

Scary guys

This long weekend is super nice and feels undeserved. I don't seem to spend much time at the office these days, which leads to my time there being especially productive. I would do well with a four-day week of six-hour workdays. I'm managing, slowly, to take care of things around the house. I got rid of old clothes, stored winter clothes, and started shredding ancient phone bills. Soon I will actually file (I've promised myself to do five minutes a day for the next week). I may even weed and mulch the front yard. I planted periwinkle and weeded in the back on Friday. That's just how good I am.

I am not getting out enough. And even when I do, I meet no one. I went to a swing dance with CK on Saturday night. I danced quite a bit (for once), but towards the end of the evening the large number of must-be-avoided men depressed me. The "stay away" look designed to stop the scary guys keeps the other guys from asking me to dance. If I keep a more open, friendly look on my face, it's an invitation to the scary guys. Annoying.

They are not scary because they are bad dancers. They are scary because they: get frustrated with you when you can't follow them (hello--bad lead means I can't follow); hurt you by holding your hands too tight or pushing you through complicated moves without the proper leads; try to give you lessons; count steps for you; make vaguely racist remarks; have limp, clammy hands; make constant eye contact or no eye contact at all; touch you inappropriately.

I worked hard to keep the friendly look on my face. I guess it worked, because I danced a lot. I also had to engage in many scary-guy-avoidance maneuvers. Once or twice when I saw a scary guy heading my way, I walked away. One was heading straight for me and I looked right at him, said "Hi" and walked past him. I kind of liked that move. Once I just said "no" when the scary guy asked me to dance.

The guy I said no to seemed surprised--but I've danced with him before and it's a horrible nightmare. He has no rhythm, he hurts your hands by gripping too tightly, and he tries to give you a lesson. The last time I danced with him he said, "Let me show you something new." I'd seen him do this with other women and I'd experienced it once before. I wasn't interested. I was having a hard time following him as it was and I said, "Thanks, but I don't want to learn something new. Could we just stick with what I know?" He said, "It's easy, just let me show you." I said, "No, I'd rather not. I've already had a lesson tonight." He was sulky for the rest of the dance. I wish he remembered that encounter; it might prevent him from ever asking me to dance again.

Saturday night, a not so scary guy tried to give me a lesson. He said, "Do you know the whip?" "Sure, " I said, "I'm just a little out of practice." That was part of the problem. The other part was that he wasn't leading it very well. When I realized what he was trying to lead, I got on board, but for the rest of the dance, he counted steps for me. He also tried to give me other pointers, "Face me." Yes, yes, I know. But, did I ask you for a lesson? Please stop. Please. At least ask me if I would like some pointers before you start telling me what I'm doing wrong. He wasn't scary, but I sure didn't want to dance with him again.

I'm a pretty good dancer. Where you lead, I will follow. I can also handle pointers, but not unsolicited pointers.

The vaguely racist remarks came from an old guy who has been at every single dance that I've ever attended. He is a boring dancer. He just stands there and moves from side to side. He holds you a tad close, but it's not so bad as to be my main complaint. He'll turn you once or twice per song. And that's it. But, it wouldn't be so bad if he didn't talk to you too and tell you things that make you hate him. Like how he became a teacher so he could have the summers off and moved to Montgomery County in the '60s because they had the highest teacher salaries in the county, "But the cost of living was high too. I got out of that business." Nice values, old guy. When he found out that I live in Northeast DC, not far from Union Station, he told a long story about going to the neighborhood many years ago to do some work on a house and that he didn't feel safe. He didn't know about "those people." "There's some interesting people up there. Are those people still up there?" Yes, that's right old guy, I live in a black neighborhood. And I'm not scared. And you are a bigot. Fuck you, old guy. I'm not dancing with you anymore. I don't have any patience with the casual racism I encounter when people find out where I live.

I'm supposed to have a fun time at these dances, but instead I end up just a little bit pissed off. The scary guys are really a drag. On the up side, it sure is fun dishing about them with CK.

Grateful for: having someone who understands about the scary guys.

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